Hadiya Pendleton's friends, family celebrate her life 2 years after shooting death

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CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two years after Hadiya Pendleton was shot at a Chicago park, the friends by her side that day returned to the scene.

Friends and family members gathered Thursday night to remember and celebrate the 15-year-old who was full of life and promise. Candles spelled out her name, a symbol that her light still shines even though she is gone.

"This is our kind of way of honoring her and showing her that, you know, she's never forgotten," said Amber Mitchell, friend.

"Just trying to live on her memory, let people know that she will still live on forever," said Tyanna Liggett, friend.

Two years ago, the King High School honors student and several of her friends were huddled under shelter from the rain when shots rang out, one fatally wounding the standout sophomore. She had just performed at the inauguration for President Obama a week earlier.

Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton says being around her daughter's friends provides comfort and a sense of gratitude that they haven't forgotten about her.

"You can't imagine how much it means to me and Anthony and Junior for you guys to continue to uplift us, because this is hard," said Cowley-Pendleton.

Hadiyah's friends say her favorite saying was, "If you smile, you tell your brain you're happy," a motto that inspires them every day.

"Hadiya is gonna always be in our hearts, and we always gonna remember her. So, I know you're looking down on us, and we remember you, so make us proud in heaven," said Imari Stewart, friend.

Hadiya's Promise is the foundation her family created to help at-risk youth, and on her birthday in June, her friends are planning to celebrate with a bonfire.

Hadiya would have graduated from high school this June, so her friends say they are planning something really special to pay tribute.
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